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Where the 1.3 million people losing unemployment aid this week live

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© Committee on Ways and Means Demcrats/Labor Department
Darker shading means a larger share of a state’s population will lose emergency jobless benefits Saturday.
A projected 1.3 million people will lose emergency unemployment benefits when they expire Saturday.

Darker shading corresponds to states where a higher share of the population is affected.

Congress offered the extended benefits as unemployment ballooned during the Great Recession and has put off their expiration 11 times since. Renewing the long-term insurance is a top agenda item for the Senate when it convenes Jan. 6, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said. The body is expected to vote quickly on a three-month extension of the benefits.

Recipients still face, at best, a delay in their checks and, at worst, a permanent end to them. When the aid expires Saturday, the unemployed will only be able to collect a maximum 26 weeks of benefits in most parts of the U.S., down from about twice as much in many states.

The recession may technically be over, but for many the recovery has yet to begin. The plight of the long-term unemployed - a group the benefits are aimed at helping and whose ranks have swelled - has also proven particularly difficult to solve. Studies have shown that they are more likely to suffer mental-health setbacks and are less likely to be hired.

And every state but one - North Dakota - has added more people than jobs since the recession began. Nationally, that deficit between jobs and population growth equates to roughly 9.2 million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that produces research focused on low- and middle-income workers. In 33 states, the gap between jobs and population growth is 5 percent or greater.

Arrow Up

Pasadena police use Rose Parade as excuse to search hundreds of vehicles

Warrentless Car Searches
© Police State USA
California - An annual New Year's tradition, along with the crippling fear of terrorism, is giving police in Pasadena the excuse they need to perform hundreds of warrantless vehicle searches.

Police State USA obtained a tip from a reader notifying of the signs being posted near the route of the upcoming Rose Parade - an annual parade held on New Year's Day in Pasadena. The parade draws crowds of hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country. Hundreds of recreational vehicles gather along the parade route and in nearby parking lots in the week preceding the parade.

The sign in the photograph sent to Police State USA reads:
DEC. 29 THRU JAN. 1

FOR SECURITY PURPOSES ALL VEHICLES PARKED IN THIS AREA ARE SUBJECT TO INSPECTION AND SEARCH BY PASADENA PD. NON-COMPLIANCE MAY RESULT IN CITATION AND TOW AT OWNER'S EXPENSE.
Pasadena Police have been treating the Rose Parade like a terrorist target since 9/11, and have annually employed a program they dub "Parade Watch." A police document from 2002 discusses the program and some of its tactics. Discussing the vehicle searches, Pasadena PD published, "One of the simplest responses would have been to post 'No Parking' signs along the cross streets of the route, however, such a response was inconsistent with the goals and the tradition of the Rose Parade."

Question

World gone mad: Hundreds of teens terrorize Brooklyn mall and shut it down after mob organized on Facebook to watch fight between girls

Hundreds of teens terrorized a Brooklyn mall Thursday during an attack organized on social media, forcing it to close its doors for hours during crucial day after Christmas sales. More than 400 teens swarmed Kings Plaza Mall, in Southern Brooklyn, trashing stores, assaulting shoppers and stealing things after a t-shirt insulting a high school student sparked anger among classmates.

A large group of teen girls reportedly fought each other over the incendiary t-shirt and the violent 'knockout' game also broke out on the mall's top floor - where one teen may have been carrying a gun, cops told the New York Post.


Teens used social media to organize the attack with the goal of putting the mall 'on tilt,' according to Facebook and Twitter posts cited by the Post. The shirt showed a picture of the girl with a derogatory comment about her, the New York Daily News reported.

Mall employees rushed to close their stores as chaos broke out all around them. 'I've been here seven years and I have never seen anything like this before - I'm so scared. I know they will come back,' store clerk Abu Tabel, 31, told the paper.

'I was begging them to stop. There were a lot of kids hundreds of kids... [Security] would chase them out one door and they would come back in another door,' he continued.

People

Terminally ill girl who had 10,000 people sing Christmas carols at her home dies on Christmas Day


Delaney Brown, 8, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. In her last week she was granted a few wishes including 10,000 people who sang Christmas carols at her house and talking to Taylor Swift.

A terminally ill girl who received support from thousands of Christmas carolers outside her home over the weekend died early on Christmas morning, her family said.
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© Team Laney/Via Facebook
Delaney Brown, 8, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in May.
Delaney Brown, 8, of West Reading "passed away quietly with her loving family by her side," family spokesman Christopher Winters said in a statement Wednesday.

On Saturday night, thousands gathered outside her home in eastern Pennsylvania to fulfill her wish for a huge holiday singalong. The crowd cycled through holiday favorites such as "Frosty the Snowman," ''Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" and "Jingle Bells" and ended with a chorus of "Happy Birthday" to the girl, who turned 8 on Friday, The Reading Eagle reported.
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© Ben Hasty/AP
People fill the 400 block of Chestnut Street, Saturday in West Reading, Pa., where thousands of people came out to sing Christmas carols in front of Brown's home.
Shortly after the caroling began, the family's Facebook page showed a picture of Delaney giving two thumbs up with the text, "I can hear you now!!! Love you!"

Hourglass

California church displays bleeding Trayvon Martin nativity scene

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© Daily Bulletin
Outside the Claremont United Methodist Church is a nativity scene with a bleeding Trayvon Martin. The California Church has turned their nativity scene "into a piece of art that comments on our times" for the last seven years.
John Zachary, the artist, told me the acquittal in July of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot the 17-year-old African-American in 2012, struck him as a worthy subject for Christmas comment.

For one thing, the backdrop to the Christmas story is the slaughter by King Herod of all infants in Bethlehem, a barbarous attempt to kill the Messiah.
Zachary described that when looking for pictures of Trayvon "one of the teenager lying dead on the pavement particularly tore at him. 'What if Jesus was lying there bleeding to death? I was kind of thinking of that,' Zachary said."

The title of the nativity "art" is called " 'A Child is Born, a Son is Given,' the wording outlined in red formed from a pool of blood at Trayvon's feet."

Bizarro Earth

Over-the-top amenities for the uber-rich

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© Jim Bartsch /July 26, 2010
Designer Steve Hermann's Glass Pavilion is cantilevered over grass to make it look as if it is floating on air.
Moats, walk-in safes, wellness suites and dental chairs are among the features that home designers and builders use to capture the imaginations of wealthy buyers.

If you thought Southern California mansions could hardly get more outlandish, consider the latest must-have feature: A moat encircling the property.

Other exclusive amenities include dental chairs, botox stations and wine "cellars" that somehow made their way into the kitchen. It's all part of growing competition among designers, architects and developers for the attention of ultra-wealthy buyers.

Moats are making their biggest splash since medieval times.

At Jennifer Lopez's former home in Bel-Air, which recently resold for $10 million, an arched footbridge and a cobblestone driveway cross a stone-lined waterway that encircles the French-style villa.

In Brentwood, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady included the water element at their newly completed European-style estate. Luckily for the neighbors, the couple's moat looks more like a winding stream than a means of defense.

Cow Skull

After a month of trying, I still can't sign up for Obamacare

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© Webpro
After a month of trying, I still can't complete an application to join the D.C. Health Exchange. For a week, the Obamacare marketplace asked me to prove my citizenship, my daughter's existence, and my fixed address in the District of Columbia, but it would not allow me to submit the requested material.

That changed, slightly, yesterday when it started allowing me to submit those things, which I did, but it must now validate them via a person. Perhaps this is why Barack Obama's staff had to physically visit the D.C. exchange in order to sign up the president for Obamacare.

It also apparently keeps losing all of my family's personal information, so I'm having to type my name, address, Social Security number, as well as a) a fixed address or b) whether I'm incarcerated or c) or whether am a member of an American Indian or native Alaskan federally protected tribe.

And despite selecting "send me all messages via email" it doesn't actually do that - the messages just sit in my account at the D.C. exchange, which tells me when I log in that I have a message there. Which I can't read because when I click on it my computer asks me to select a program to use to access whatever it is and no matter what I select it just displays a bunch of random characters. Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft reader, and PDF are not helping with this - but why would they use that sort of program for a message like that?

Heart - Black

Grinch Zombie: Woman arrested for stealing toys donated to neighbors

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© Barnstable PD
Janice Tully
A Hyannis woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing toys that were donated through the Toys For Tots program.

On Christmas Eve, two neighbors say 49-year-old Janice Tully gave them a ride to pick up donated toys for their five children at the Barnstable Police Department and the Independence House.

The victims say Tully abruptly left the Independence House without them after filling her trunk with approximately $500 worth of toys. The victims were stranded and had to take a taxi home.

When Tully returned home, she told her neighbors the toys were gone.

Candida Pina was one of the victims. "I said 'why are you doing this to my children, not to me, why are you doing this to children at Christmastime?'" Candida told WBZ-TV.

Handcuffs

Porn actress's naked revenge photos on Catholic campus land her in jail

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An adult model was sentenced to jail time for sneaking onto the campus of her former Catholic high school to take raunchy photos, which included the highly unorthodox use of a crucifix on herself.

Valerie Dodds was found guilty in a bench trial last month of trespassing and public nudity for the May 13 stunt at her former high school, and Judge Thomas Fox sentenced her Friday to 45 days in jail.

Dodds filed notice of an appeal and was released later the same day on $75 bond.

The 19-year-old Dodds performs under the name Val Midwest, and she said she posed for the photos and posted them online as revenge against former classmates and teachers at Lincoln Pius X High School who criticized her for her post-graduation career choices.

"Everyone at my high school had something rude to say to me when I started my website and so this is my tribute to all of you lol," Dodds wrote on her website. "I held nothing back I used my fingers, my toys and even my crucifix in my p*ssy! I used every part of the school I could get into, payback is a b*tch ha ha."

Gift

Late surge in web buying blindsides UPS, retailers

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© Bloomberg
An unexpected surge of online orders in the past few weeks appears to have strained the limits of delivery and fulfillment infrastructure at retailers and parcel carriers. An employee stacks items to be shipped at the Amazon.com fulfillment center in Phoenix, Ariz., earlier this month.
Some Christmas Packages Aren't Delivered

A surge in online shopping this holiday season left stores breaking promises to deliver packages by Christmas, suggesting that retailers and shipping companies still haven't fully figured out consumers' buying patterns in the Internet era.

Companies from Amazon.com Inc. to Kohl's Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., having promised to deliver items before Dec. 25, missed some delivery target dates.

United Parcel Service Inc. determined late Tuesday that it wouldn't deliver some goods in time for Christmas, as a spike in last-minute shopping overwhelmed its system. "The volume of air packages in the UPS system did exceed capacity as demand was much greater than our forecast," a UPS spokeswoman said.

Consumers were reporting missing deliveries from FedEx as well, although a FedEx spokesman said the company wasn't experiencing significant delays.

Americans tend to go online for a bigger proportion of their Christmas shopping than for their buying during the rest of the year. This year, the trend's acceleration apparently took some stores and carriers off-guard.